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Thoughts on ESPN’s shortsighted Top 25 under-25

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Indianapolis Colts v Tennessee Titan Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Every year ESPN puts out there top 25 players under the age of 25. This year’s list (In$ider) includes two Tennessee Titans- Kevin Byard #17 and Jack Conklin #23- both of which are very deserving of a spot on said list. I would argue that Byard should be ahead of guys like Leonard Fournette and Kareem Hunt, but hey, whatever.

The ridiculous thing here is that Marcus Mariota was left off the list. It is amazing to me how some people will just look at stat lines when putting something together like this. Sure, Mariota’s numbers are down so far this year, but would you really rather have Fournette or Hill on your team than Mariota? Come on.

And look, I am as high on Deshaun Watson as anyone that isn’t a Texans fan, but he’s had 5 good NFL games. Let’s reign in the hype train just a little bit here.

Mariota’s stock will soar as the season goes along. This is a tough match-up tonight against the Steelers, but after this Mariota gets a bunch of cake match-ups. Mike Sando will be crying into his pillow that he didn’t include Marcus on this list by week 15. Book it!

Here is what Sando had to say about Byard:

Byard leads the NFL in interceptions with six, and ranked as high as No. 12 on one of the ballots submitted by an evaluator. There was some thought Byard still must show greater consistency making the routine plays, but the big-play impact is undeniable.

And on Conklin:

Conklin has quickly become a solid starting right tackle and was named first-time All-Pro by the Associated Press as a rookie last season.

An evaluator called him one of the rare linemen who can win with both power and quick feet. What were the odds Tennessee would have two players on this list and one would not be their quarterback?